Many may view China and the US as drastically different, but there are several common challenges that both countries face. For example, the world’s two largest economies both have a high level of income disparity, despite their very different political and economic structures.
To address such socio-economic challenges, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government (HKS) recently joined hands for their first co-hosted symposium, “Responsible Business Leadership in China and the US: Private Sector & Public Value” at Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, MA.
The symposium was conducted in English and Chinese, and drew a capacity audience of more than 150 executives and academics, including more than 20 Chinese CEOs and NGO leaders from the custom week-long program held by Harvard for CKGSB on how the private sector, government and NGOs can better collaborate to create social value in a globalized world. The event is the first step of the five-year collaboration of the two schools that will also cover executive education programs, joint research projects and forums in China, the US and possibly other parts of the world.
Dean Xiang addresses the 2015 CKGSB-HKS Global Symposium,
the first joint event in a new five-year collaboration between the schools.
‘Developing Responsible Leaders for the 21st Century’
Xiang Bing, CKGSB Founding Dean and Professor of China Business and Globalization, called for a global, humanitarian and innovative mindset for the new leaders in the 21st century and for a fresh approach to business education in his keynote speech. “Business schools need to go beyond the traditional boundaries to develop leaders for the 21st century who can compete and collaborate with compassion and empathy,” Dean Xiang said.
He shared CKGSB’s own initiatives to these ends, such as the incorporation of religion, philosophy and history into its business education curriculum. Dean Xiang also explained that CKGSB requires its EMBA students to partake in six days (48 hours) of community service before they can complete their degrees.
“Our professors push students to go beyond how to do business to ask why to do business, beyond the creation of wealth to the application of wealth,” Dean Xiang said.
Dean Xiang then shared his expectations for the CKGBS-HKS joint initiative. “I hope by combining the intellectual firepower of the two schools we can shed light on some of the most pressing issues facing humanity,” Dean Xiang said. “I hope what we do today represents the beginning of a two-way street between the East and West in knowledge and wisdom transmission.”
CKGSB Founding Dean Xiang Bing, US Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY)
and Ash Center Director Anthony Saich.
Addressing CSR Doubts in China
In her keynote speech, Hon. Grace Meng, US House of Representatives (D-NY), applauded the partnership of public and private sectors advocated by CKGSB and HKS.
Born in New York City to Chinese immigrants, Meng is the first Asian-American member of Congress from New York State and the only Congress member of Asian descent in the entire northeastern US.
“As a Chinese American, we often hear, far too often, the doubt that Chinese corporations care as much as they should about being socially responsible. That is rhetoric within even the halls of Congress that we have to combat,” Meng said.
For Meng, the symposium marked a big step in the right direction in combating this stereotype.
“Events, initiatives and conferences like this one give me such inspiration and hope,” she said, adding she was eager to take this message of collaboration back with her when Congress resumes a new session in September.
A Multi-Faceted Discussion
Anthony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, moderated a panel on the nature of private sector contributions to public value in China and the US, before opening it up to the audience for questions.
Some key comments from the distinguished panelists:
Harnessing his expertise on Chinese intellectual history, Chinese philosophy and Confucian studies, Dr. Tu called for a shift toward “spiritual humanism” and away from the secular humanism, economism and consumerism running rampant in the two cultures today.
“For spiritual humanism, the focus is on commiseration, empathy, sympathy, compassion and care,” Dr. Tu said. He added that it acknowledges that “we humans are interconnected – one body with heaven and earth and all myriad things in between” and restores a respect for the natural world in our everyday lives.
William (Bill) KIRBY
“This is an old tradition in China: People of wealth and means serving a broader good,” Dr. Kirby said.
Dr. Kirby shared examples of modern Chinese companies that have carried on what he sees as China’s historical legacy of CSR.
He cited the case of a top Chinese garment manufacturer that recognizes that investing in its workers is very good for business. Wanxiang Group, a large auto parts manufacturer, has taken that a step further by practicing good CSR both at home in China and at its overseas operations in the US, Dr. Kirby said. Meanwhile, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, an alumnus of CKGSB’s CEO class, has started a university aimed at educating entrepreneurs.
“It is tricky for these sorts of companies to continue to find ways to improve the lives of the people they serve in a way that challenges our conception of what corporate social responsibility can be,” Dr. Kirby said.
Jack (John) DONAHUE
A veteran of President Clinton’s administration, Dr. Donahue offered a preview of a new book he is co-authoring on collaborative governance highlighting successful partnerships between the private and public sectors in China and in the US.
He noted that though the two countries are quite different, they are both open to collaboration for social progress and economic development.
“Both embrace an eclectic, open, innovative approach to getting things done. Both cultures are open to new ideas,” Dr. Donahue said.
A former long-time member of the American Economic Review’s editorial board, Dr. Young elaborated on what he believes the West has to learn from China—the value of serious, competent government leadership.
Confucianism holds that working in the government is the highest calling, and Dr. Young posited that China’s rise over the last 30 years has been a product of its government leadership.
“Let’s put it in terms of personalities,” he said. “The last three Chinese administrations were clearly led by two people who were both serious and competent. In the last three US administrations, Bill Clinton was competent, but not serious. George Bush was neither serious, nor competent. And Barack Obama has been serious, but not competent,” he said.
“This matters because you can see the US failures in infrastructure, gun control, health insurance and cyber warfare, whereas China clearly is serious and competent in all these areas.”
Dr. Young said that US politics has been degraded by the worst of capitalist values, but that it can be redeemed by the best of them.
“[US] capitalism can—and needs to—do better if it is to avoid being swamped by China,” he said. “This would be a tragedy for China as well as for the US.”
Mr. Sun is the first CEO of Chinese origin in Japanese and Korean companies operating in China. He has achieved the best performance for SK, one of the largest Korean conglomerates, since it entered China 20 years ago.
“The imbalance across provinces and regions in China has led to a lot of social issues,” Mr. Sun said.
An urge to learn more about CSR impelled many Chinese CEOs to enroll in the program “China’s Business Leaders: Creating Value in a Globalized World” and attend the symposium. “There is a great desire to learn how to be socially responsible,” Mr. Sun said.
Mr. Sun spoke highly of the five-day CKGSB program in collaboration with HKS that examined the variety of roles businesses can play in the creation of public value from charity and responsible investing to CSR and social impact bonds. He reflected on the excellent training he received from the CKGSB and HKS faculty in this intensive executive education program and recognized the tremendous need for more programs on this topic.
“I would like to see more trainings like this and the continuous development of the collaboration project between CKGSB and the Harvard Kennedy School so that more and more Chinese business people can be encouraged to get involved in social enterprises,” Mr. Sun said.
Mr. Liu founded Luye Pharmaceutical Company, one of the top 20 Chinese pharmaceutical firms, 21 years ago.
Detailing Luye Pharmaceutical’s CSR practices, Mr. Liu said Luye funds schools and universities in China, including a $2 million annual donation to Beijing University to support oncology research, as well as forming a partnership with the Chinese government to establish a medical school.
He also shared his experience of bringing his business overseas to the US, where Luye currently has six products in the FDA pipeline, expected to receive approval by next year.
Luye recently purchased a factory in New Jersey where the purchase price was lower than it would have been for a property of similar size in the company’s headquarters city of Yantai, China.
For more on the collaboration between CKGSB and HKS, please click here. The 2016 CKGSB-HKS Global Symposium will be held in Beijing, China.